March 16, 2020

Three questions to MEDAS 21 fellow Mira Keßler about her field trip to Kathmandu - Delhi - Chennai

MEDAS 21 fellow Mira Keßler has just returned to Kathmandu after her two-week stay in India. So far, she has visited media houses and met former employees of Panos South Asia to learn more about their cooperation with donors from Kannada, but also about their projects in South Asia. She was able to visit the Kantipur Media Group (KMG) in Kathmandu and went to the photo award ceremony "Nepal Photo Contest 2020". In Delhi she had the opportunity to spend some time at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which is known for its progressive students. Furthermore, she met and interviewed journalists who had received scholarships to complete international journalism training in Germany and England. In Chennai, she visited the Asian College for Journalism (ACJ) and talked to the colleagues about their programs. She attended a class, which is run by a BBC correspondent, and did participant observation. Moreover, she gained an insight into The Hindu in Chennai, one of India's largest English language daily newspapers. She learned something about the political tensions and progressive opposition to the Hindu nationalist movement. 

 

Mira, what is your current mood?

After four weeks in the field with the work of daily writing protocols every single day and of observing and recording my environment, I have to admit that I am somewhat exhausted. In addition, there are the challenges of living and working in a different environment, everyday life and context. But I am very happy about what I experience and learn during this time and I am sure that these experiences will have an effect for a long time and will leave a lasting impression on me. And I am very grateful for the opportunity to explore the field so openly. But this openness also suits the flexibility and the fluctuations of the field very well.

 

What was the most difficult experience so far?

For me, it is also this openness. So, when I arrived, I had no fixed plan, be it in terms of time or content, what to expect or with whom I would speak. All of this happened from day to day and to endure it is the biggest challenge for me. In addition, I have many field notes and protocols, but I do not yet know exactly to what extent and how precisely I will process them analytically. This requires a certain amount of trust and serenity. I also have the feeling that the political climate here is very tense and that there will be little or no opportunities for media development in the future. But I am sure that my stay will give me an unique opportunity to get to know and to better understand the perspective and moods of my colleagues here on site, whether through discussions, publications or the news. And that is precisely the approach of my study.

 

What are your greatest "lessons learned"?

That openness and curiosity are the best means to explore other worlds of life and work, even if you do not understand the language. And that emotional ups and downs are not bad and belong to it. Self-care is also very important, to hold back from time to time, to go on your own pace and to rely on people you don't know. And I think it is important to get involved with the people on the ground. So, I live with locals and I also meet people from Kathmandu to eat with them, go to the cinema or to explore the city. I also went to a pre-school, for example, as I had the chance. Otherwise I would feel very isolated and too much "watching from the outside".

 

Altogether Mira will be in India for five and a half weeks. After her return she has to adjust again and then she will sort, merge and analyze her data, including the data from her first field trip to Hilversum last fall. Furthermore, she still has some writing and reading to do. 

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March 11, 2020

Discussion about media development and development communication with Dr Kefa Hamidi

The research centre “Entwicklungskommunikation – Communication for Social Change” (EC4SC) at the university of Leipzig aims to analyse communication processes (actors, structures, formats) that contribute to social change. During the MEDAS 21 Lab-Meeting in March, the coordinator Dr Kefa Hamidi presented the work of the research centre as well as approaches on how communication for social change might succeed. The three focus areas of EC4SC comprise participation, empowerment and mediation. But what is the difference between development communication, communication for social change and media development? Dr Kefa Hamidi and the MEDAS 21 fellows engaged in lively discussions about this issue. Moreover, they talked about opportunities for future cooperation – the fellows are for example developing a seminar on media development at the moment and could profit from Hamidi’s teaching experience in terms of media and development. 

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March 10, 2020

MEDAS 21 fellow Roja Zaitoonie presents the backdrop of her PhD thesis on the Humanitarian News Research Network

MEDAS 21 fellow Roja Zaitoonie has published a post for the Humanitarian News Research Network (HNRN) - it explains the historical backdrop to her PhD research on the use of UN radio in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. The post series is originating from the YECREA section of International and Intercultural Communication (IIC) and the Young Scholars Network (YSN),

which organized a PhD workshop with a focus on international journalism, humanitarian communication and news production at the Free University of Brussels on 30 October 2019. 

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February 19, 2020

Training course on sustainable communication successfully completed

The significance of media and communication for the realization of global sustainability goals was recently addressed in a postgraduate course on "‘Sustainable Communication" (SusCom) offered by Jönköping University (Sweden). The 3-month doctoral course (November 2019 – January 2020) focused on the relationship between media communication and the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability. 

Two MEDAS 21 fellows, Fabíola Ortiz and Michel Leroy, completed the online course which was coordinated by Prof Peter Berglez and Prof Ulrika Olausson.

The course comprised pre-recorded lectures, live discussions as well as written and oral examinations. It drew upon the latest theory developments and international empirical research covering the following themes:

  • What is sustainable development? What is the role of media communication? 
  • Sustainable communication and journalism (What are sustainable journalism & global journalism?)
  • Sustainable communication and organizations (The challenges of cross-sector collaboration and communication for the realization of sustainability goals)
  • Sustainable communication as communication for social change
  • Sustainable development and critique of ideology: the problematic aspects of the sustainability concept in media society (a critical theoretical approach to sustainable communication)

Main takeaways
One of the main gains from this course is that there are different discourses and competing understandings of what sustainable development means. The readings and the lectures offered insights on how sustainability is understood in relation to different social layers, class, capitalism and what ideologies appear as being neutral in the context of public information. 

The concept of sustainability has been identified as playing an important part in the “depoliticisation” of modern society. It is often invoked not to question the main power inequalities but rather to prevent the critique of power structures in modern society. Since many ideological discourses develop through relations between various institutions such as the media, politics, science, and everyday life, what became the “non-ideological character” of sustainability and the way it is highlighted in public information have led to it being identified as a topic that allows for avoiding confrontational class politics, instead emphasising collaboration and consensus.

 

Ouput
Have a look at
our resources section for more information about the research papers that Fabíola Ortiz and Michel Leroy produced as part of the training course.

What does sustainability mean?

Sustainability represents a challenge to conventional thinking and practice; it is about long- and short-term well-being and bridges the gap between development and environment. 

This concept has evolved since 1972 when the international community begun to explore connections between quality of life and environment at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. 

It was not until 1987 that the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development Our Common Future (WCED) defined the term "sustainable development" as: "development that can meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

That report has been crucial in putting sustainable development into the political arena of international development thinking. It refers to maintaining development over time. There are several definitions of this term and divergent interpretations, though. 

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February 19, 2020

MEDAS 21 fellow Michel Leroy became part of an expert team on media development in France

MEDAS 21 fellow Michel Leroy was selected, along with Olivier Lechien and Marie-Soleil Frère, to be part of a panel of media development experts to advise the evaluators of the current contract of objectives between the French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs and CFI, the French public operator in this sector, a subsidiary of France Médias Monde. Over the coming months, the expert team will meet regularly to provide the evaluators with insight into the specificities of this type of operation and into the challenges facing the media development sector nowadays.

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February 14, 2020

Three questions to MEDAS 21 fellow Johanna Mack about her research trip to Bissau

MEDAS 21 fellow Johanna Mack spent two weeks in Bissau and interviewed different actors of the media sector in order to generate basic information about the media landscape. They will be merged in a mapping of the Guinea-Bissauan media system. For example, she talked to representatives of journalists' associations, of state, public and community media, a Portuguese broadcaster and news agency and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office which offers assistance

to the media.

 

What is the biggest difference between researching in Bissau and

Germany for example?

A practical difference is that in Guinea-Bissau, it is not common to make

appointments a long time before a meeting shall take place. Rather, you just call and ask the people you want to meet if they are free on the same day. Moreover, the practice of journalism and the understanding of professionalism in the media sector is entirely different - mainly because of difficult working conditions for the journalists.

 

Which difficulties did you have to face?

Language is an issue because many people do not speak English or French, many not even Portuguese, but only Criollo and local languages. In addition, reaching media outlets outside the capital can be challenging. However, all my interview partners were very collaborative and ready to answer my questions.

 

What did you bring from Bissau?

I brought recordings and transcriptions of ca 25 interviews, as well as the current editions of local newspapers. In addition, the journey allowed me a better understanding of how journalists understand their work in Guinea-Bissau and how the media function there.

 

In the next months, Johanna will work on her theory and methodology. In particular, she will read about media system analysis and different theoretical approaches to (media) development.

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February 3, 2020

Three questions to MEDAS 21 fellow Viviane Schönbächler about her field research in Burkina Faso

MEDAS 21 fellow Viviane Schönbächler is currently spending her time in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Since last November, she is carrying out her field research and her practice stay with her partner organization Eirene. In this first phase of field research, she wants to conduct an analysis of actors involved in local radios and also analyze their weekly programming with a special focus on gender and conflict coverage.

 

What did you do in Ouagadougou so far?

As for my practice stay with Eirene, I was asked to support their quest for an increased gender sensitivity in their Sahel program. Therefore, I conducted interviews with Eirene staff members, partner organizations, women journalists in the program and radio staff members of nine different local radio stations in Burkina Faso. And I collected more than 150 hours of radio programs. Moreover, I had the opportunity to participate in a regional seminar in Senegal, organized by Panos Institute West Africa, which discussed questions and approaches around gender-sensitive journalism.

 

What was the most interesting experience by now?

I found it very interesting how available women journalists in Niger were. Within three days, I was able to contact and conduct seven interviews without any difficulties. And despite the bad internet connection and some language barriers, these interviews were very rich and encouraging! The experience of conducting an interview through voice messages was also new and challenging for me.

The seminar with Panos West Africa was a great opportunity to meet and exchange with many women and men who are fighting for gender equality in the media.

 

What are your greatest "lessons learned"?

Always have a plan B and C and D ready! Everything can change, so be ready to adjust! This is particularly true in a difficult security situation. It also means, to be ready to adjust your methodology to the needs of the research participants. Where the situation is not stable, take concerns of anonymity, travelling constraints, and financial matters serious and be honest and straightforward with what you can and what you cannot do.

And provide for some buffer time! A week can pass very quickly and even though people in Burkina Faso are very spontaneous, it is also possible that spontaneously they will not be available for a week! Thanks to my buffer weeks, I was able to get the data I needed despite many delays and postponements.

 

Viviane will be back in Germany by mid-February. She planes to go back to the field in late March 2020 for the second phase, in which she will focus on the experience of women journalists in their daily work at these radio stations. And of course, she will continue to analyze the data collected so far as well as her analysis of Eirene’s Sahel program. Moreover, she will finish a draft report, which will be further developed in a next phase of practice stay in August-October 2020.

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December 9, 2019

MEDAS 21 celebrates the jubilee of the Catholic Media Council

On Nov 28-29, 2019, Michel Leroy, one of Medas21's PhD candidates and research assistant at the Erich-Brost-Institute, was in charge of leading through the Catholic Media Council's jubilee celebration in Aachen as "master of ceremony".

For 50 years, Cameco has been a major player in media development. Its library is one of the richest in the sector.

On the occasion of its anniversary, media specialists from all over the world came together for a conference on the topic “Communicating from and with the margins.”

Three main questions were addressed:  How to better address the needs of marginalised groups? How can communication initiatives become more sustainable? And how can good practices be upscaled?

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November 8, 2019

Meet and Greet at the FoME Symposium 2019

The annual symposium of the „Forum Medien und Entwicklung“ (FoME) is Germany’s most important gathering of people active in the field of media development. No wonder that the MEDAS 21 fellows were high in number at this year’s symposium which took place from Nov 7-8, 2019, in Bonn. Johanna Mack, Viviane Schönbächler, Stefan Wollnik, Roja Zaitoonie and Michel Leroy (pictured from left to right with MEDAS 21 coordinator Ines Drefs) seized the event as an opportunity to catch up with practice partners such as Catholic Media Council, Foundation Hirondelle, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and DW Akademie. The range of media development practitioners, journalists and academics present at the symposium also allowed to make new contacts and to gain insights into innovative technologies and approaches to media development in the new information ecosystem.

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November 8, 2019

Paper presentation at the DGPuK Conference in Dortmund

MEDAS fellow Roja Zaitoonie has presented a paper titled "The Achievements and Challenges of the United Nations’ General Assembly in the Field of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs)" at the workshop 'Inter/transnational media policy and regulation in digital environments. Debates. Strategies. Innovations' in Dortmund at the end of October 2019. The workshop was organized by the International and Intercultural Communication section (IIC) of the German communications scholars’ network DGPuK.

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September 26, 2019

Constructing Peace through Media? Paper presentation at the ECREA Workshop in Tel Aviv

MEDAS fellow Roja Zaitoonie has presented a paper titled "Constructing Peace through Media? The Targeted Use of Media Interventions in Peace Processes" at the workshop 'The Constructionist View of Communication: Promises and Challenges' in Tel Aviv, which was organized by the Philosophy of Communication Section of ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association).

The paper reviews the phenomenological and constructivist approaches of Edmund Husserl, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann and discusses their potential relevance for UN efforts on media development in peace missions.

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July 23, 2019

Achievements and Challenges of the United Nations' General Assembly: Paper presentation at the annual IAMCR Conference in Madrid

MEDAS fellow Roja Zaitoonie has presented a paper on "The Achievements and Challenges of the United Nations’ General Assembly in the Field of Media and Public Communication" at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in Madrid.

The paper examines nearly 1.600 subject-related resolutions adopted by the General Assembly between 1945 and 2018. It highlights the achievements and challenges of the General Assembly in the field of media and public communication and provides a basis for further investigation and knowledge-based advocacy concerning the promotion of freedom of information and media development in global governance.

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June 1, 2019

The last fellow joined MEDAS 21

Johanna Mack is the last doctoral student who joined the research school MEDAS 21 on June 1, 2019. In her project, she will focus on another aspect of media development cooperation and complete the range of topics.

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November 8, 2018

Successful Inaugural Lecture: MEDAS 21 – Global Media Assistance in the 21st century

Dr Roukaya Kasenally, CEO of the African Media Initiative, talked about the sustainability of African-European media cooperation.

The MEDAS 21 team with its partners. Photo: Marcus Kreutler
The MEDAS 21 team with its partners. Photo: Marcus Kreutler

The new research program MEDAS 21 – Global Media Assistance in the 21st Century started on 8th November 2018 with a successful inaugural lecture in the Erich-Brost-Institute for international journalism (EBI). For the next four years, the structured doctoral program will focus on media development cooperation and is supported by VolkswagenStiftung with about 1,7 million euro. MEDAS 21 is one of only eight supported research schools in Germany that is located at the intersection of university theory and practical application. 

 

Not only guests and friends of the Brost-Institute but also students and teachers of the Institute for journalism had the chance to listen to an exciting presentation of Dr Roukaya Kasenally, keynote speaker that evening. As CEO of the African Media Initiative, she could give a brief overview of the current developments, problems and discussions about media development cooperation. 

 

Dr Kasenally put an emphasis on the question of sustainability and efficiency of media cooperation between African and European countries and outlined possible financing and business models. Talking about the related quality requirements, she underlined the challenges media have to face due to the digitalisation of markets and the public sphere. In her opinion, African media need to develop an “African vocabulary” in order to fulfil their growing social responsibility – at that point, international partnerships should take over a leading position. These partnerships needed to act in a less competitive but a more cooperative and constructive way to promote a self-determined and sustainable media landscape. 

 

The director of the EBI and main notifier of the project, Prof Dr Susanne Fengler, is looking forward to new horizons MEDAS 21 will open: “The support of the VolkswagenStiftung is an extremely positive development. It is and will remain a difficult task to develop successful media companies and foster a public-oriented journalism. Effective media cooperation can thus contribute to boost media potentials.” At the same time, success is not granted. “It is conspicuous that there is no scientific organisation dealing with media development cooperation even though it is a huge topic that has to face lots of complex problems”, says Fengler. “That’s what we want to do in our new research program: promote the dialogue between science and professional practice, concentrate our knowledge, evaluate current developments and offer our results to the responsible media and communication officers in development institutions.” Due to that idea, science will remain at the pulse of social necessity. 

 

Background:

The VolkswagenStiftung supports the structured doctoral program MEDAS 21 – under the auspices of the TU Dortmund’s Institute for Journalism (IF) – with 1,7 million euro. The principal goal of the foundation is to ensure closer ties between theoretical approaches and practical relevance in the education of doctoral students. Besides Prof Dr Susanne Fengler (TU Dortmund), Prof Dr Barbara Thomaß (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) and Prof Dr Jens Loenhoff (Universität Duisburg-Essen) initiated the project. Dr Dirk-Claas Ulrich (EBI, TU Dortmund) conceived the research school and is scientific program director. The team of scientists has already cooperated in the context of the graduate program “School of International and Intercultural Communication | SIIC”, supported by MERCUR. The school focuses on current developments in media development cooperation under changed technological and political conditions. Furthermore, the seven PhDs have the chance to work up to one year in a cooperating foundation or NGO. Project partners are Deutsche Welle Akademie, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), African Media Initiative (AMI), Media Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) as well as the Catholic Media Council (CAMECO) and the Swiss Fondation Hirondelle.

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July 1, 2018

The first six out of seven fellows joined MEDAS 21

Michel Leroy, Stefan Wollnik and Roja Zaitoonie were the first doctoral students joining the research school MEDAS 21 on July 1, 2018, followed by Mira Keßler and Viviane Schönbächler on August 1 and Fabiola Ortíz on November 1. In the next years, they will focus on different aspects concerning media development cooperation. MEDAS 21 can be seen as "interdisciplinarity within a discipline", promises innovative theoretical approaches and focuses solutions to problems of practical relevance.